We won't beat about the bush. Getting a train in London this summer isn't going to be fun. A perfect storm of station closures, engineering works and possible strikes means that everything's going to be clogged up, particularly south of the river. Here's your need to know:
If you use Waterloo...
Basically, don't. We've known for a while now that there's going to be major disruption at Waterloo, with platforms 1-9 being closed for almost a month. The Standard has reported that an extra platform will now be closed, bringing the total up to 10. Platforms 20-24, the former Eurostar platforms, will be temporarily reopened to help the station cope, but this still leaves the UK's busiest train station five platforms down at a time of year when tourists are pouring in from every angle, with fewer trains running, and those that are running likely to be jam packed.
Other stations on the network will also be closed for part of these works: Chessington South, Chessington North, Earlsfield, Malden Manor, Norbiton, Queenstown Road and Tolworth. Check with South West directly for details of these closures if you're planning to use any of these stations. Inevitably, this will push people up to other nearby stations, making them busier.
The end result will be more platforms at Waterloo, and extensions to existing platforms so that longer trains can run. Just bear that in mind while you're shoved up into a stranger's armpit all the way in from Windsor.
5-28 August inclusive. That encompasses three working weeks and the bank holiday weekend.
What to do?
Official advice is to take holiday (for a month?) or work from home, but that's just not possible for a lot of people. Depending where you're coming in from, there are alternative routes, but these are going to be extremely busy. Clapham Junction will finally enter the last stage of hell, and people are being warned not to change trains here or at Vauxhall (Vauxhall will be partially closed). Other stations on the line will be partially closed, with queueing systems to enter the station in place in peak hours.
If you use Southeastern...
London Bridge (Southeastern side), Waterloo East and Charing Cross will all be closed to Southeastern services for eight consecutive days. Southeastern services into and out of the capital will still be going to Cannon Street, or will be rerouted into Victoria, Blackfriars or Waterloo main station (which'll be fun for 26-28 August, when Waterloo will already be dealing with its own special kind of chaos — see above). It's all for the Thameslink Programme and the upgrades to London Bridge station.
The Southern platforms at London Bridge are expected to be open as normal, and limited Southeastern trains will be rerouted into here.
As a result, Southeastern will be running fewer trains than normal, so they'll be busier.
Some services from the Tonbridge direction will be rerouted via Redhill and East Croydon, meaning it'll take longer than normal.
26 August-2 September (that's the bank holiday weekend and a four-day working week)
What to do?
Many Southeastern commuters live so far out of London that there is no transport alternative. If taking a holiday, working from home or travelling off-peak aren't an option, it's just a case of sucking it up. On the plus side, the bank holiday weekend means you've only got a four-day working week to contend with. Those who do live within TfL or Thameslink-served areas (such as the DLR from Greenwich and Lewisham or Thameslink from Sevenoaks), we'd recommend using these services instead.
If you use Southern...
At time of writing, the planned strike on Southern on 1-4 August has been suspended and a normal service is expected to run — but this is liable to change, so keep an eye on the Southern website and Twitter feed.
Southern is also likely to be busier with overflow from Southeastern (26 August-2 September), particularly on routes where the two services connect (Tonbridge, Hastings and Ashford), and may also be picking up the slack for South West Trains services during the Waterloo closures (5-28 August)
If you use Euston...
No trains will run out of Euston for two days of the bank holiday weekend on any rail operator due to upgrade work for HS2. Caledonian Sleeper, London Midland, London Overground, Southern and Virgin Trains are all affected.
26-27 August (Saturday-Sunday of the bank holiday)
What to do
Depends where you're trying to get to. Some services will be redirected to King's Cross, a short walk down the road (you'll be quicker above ground than getting the tube). Others are being replaced by buses, or suggesting you use the Underground instead for part of your journey. Check with your train company for specifics.
If you use Victoria...
No changes are planned at Victoria itself, but expect it to be much busier than usual as a knock-on effect for all of the above, particularly the Southeastern services being rerouted here (26 August-2 September). People travelling around south London may also be using Victoria as an alternative to Waterloo (5-28 September).
Victoria tube station will be much busier as a result, with queuing systems likely to be in place to deal with the crowds.
If you use Cannon Street...
As above — plenty of people who usually use London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross on Southeastern are expected to use Cannon Street instead during the Southeastern disruption (26 August-2 September) so it'll be much busier. Tube lines from Cannon Street will likely be busier too.
If you use Clapham Junction...
You have our sympathy at the best of times, but South West Trains are going as far as to advise you to avoid using the station during the Waterloo works (5-28 August) as many people will be using it as an alternative to Waterloo. Consider using bus services or the tube from nearby stations instead.
If you use the tube...
You may think the grown-up trains are none of your concern, but you'd be wrong. The tube is expected to be much busier as alternative ticket acceptance is in place. Particular focus will be on:
- District and Circle lines between Victoria and Embankment (for Charing Cross), Blackfriars and Cannon Street during the Southeastern shut down (26 August-2 September).
- Jubilee line between London Bridge and Waterloo.
- Northern line between Morden and Waterloo (5-28 August) as people use it as an alternative to Waterloo mainline station
- We also reckon the Victoria line between Vauxhall and Victoria, and the Overground in both directions from Clapham Junction could be ones to watch due to the Waterloo closures. The same goes for buses in these areas, and queueing systems are expected to be in place for getting into and out of Victoria and Cannon Street stations during rush hour (26 August-2 September).
- The Metropolitan line between Wembley Park and Euston Square, and Euston Square and Watford and the Jubilee line between Stanmore and Wembley Park due to the Euston closure.
Thankfully, it looks like someone at TfL has used their noggin and not scheduled any tube closures or engineering work in central for the duration of the disruption — although keep an eye on the TfL website closer to the time for last minute updates.
Know of anything we've missed (is there anything left?)? Let us know in the comments below.